Rebels Host Kentucky in Home Season Finale
Feb. 20, 2018
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss women’s basketball will wrap up another year in The Pavilion with its home regular season finale vs. Kentucky on Thursday night on SEC Network.
Ole Miss Rebels (11-15, 1-12 SEC)
Head Coach: Matt Insell • 5th Season at Ole Miss (69-84) • 69-84 career record (5th Season)
Kentucky Wildcats (13-15, 5-9 SEC)
Head Coach: Matthew Mitchell • 11th Season at UK (254-114) • 284-144 career record (13th season)
ON THE AIR
Television/Online: SEC Network | Play-by-Play: Eric Frede; Color: Steffi Sorensen
Radio: 105.1 / 105.5 FM | Play-by-Play: Graham Doty; Color: Lindsay Roy
Audio: RebelVision (OleMissSports.com)
SERIES NOTES (Ole Miss leads, 23-16)
At Oxford: Ole Miss leads 12-6
At Lexington: Kentucky leads 10-9
At Neutral Sites: Series tied 1-1
Longest UM Streak: 8 (1992-99)
Longest UK Streak: 6 (2010-2015)
Biggest UM Win: 31 (1/2/97 - at Oxford)
Biggest UK Win: 41 (2/2/12 - at Lexington)
Most UM Points: 90 (2/1/04 - at Oxford)
Most UK Points: 108 (2/13/14 - at Lexington)
Last 10 Meetings: Kentucky leads 7-3
REBELS MAKING ALL-SEC PUSH
Rebel juniors Alissa Alston and Madinah Muhammad, as well as freshman Promise Taylor, have put together strong resumes for potential postseason honors.
#25 Alissa Alston • PG • Junior
• 15.0 PPG (15th SEC); 14.3 PPG in SEC play
• 4.4 Assists/Game (6th SEC)
• 1.3 Assist/Turnover Ratio (12th SEC)
• 35.4 Minutes/Game (3rd SEC)
• 19 double-digit games
• Five 20-point games; career-high 28 vs. Vanderbilt
• Has had at least four assists in 15 games
• Has scored in double digits with at least five assists in seven games
• Career-high 10 assists vs. Delaware State
• Career-long eight-game double-digit streak from Dec. 9 to Jan. 7
• At least 16 points in six of her last nine games
• 689 career points (374 this season)
#20 Madinah Muhammad • G • Junior
• 16.8 PPG (9th SEC); 15.6 PPG in SEC play
• .850 FT% (3rd SEC)
• 59 threes made (2.4/game, 4th SEC)
• 33.2 minutes/game (10th SEC); 35.0 in SEC play
• Has scored in double-digits in 21 of 25 games played
• Scored 20-plus seven times
• Has scored 30-plus twice (Ole Miss hadn’t had a 30-point game since 2015- 16 entering the season)
• Had career-long 10-game double-digit streak from Dec. 19 to Jan. 28
• Has played at least 37 minutes in eight SEC games, including 40 in three games
• Became 29th member of the Rebel 1,000-point club with 18 points vs. No. 19 Georgia, currently sitting with 1,010.
• Seven threes at No. 10 Tennessee ranks tied for third most in a single game in Ole Miss history; most ever by a Rebel vs. Tennessee
• Seven threes at Tennessee ranks tied for the most in a single game in the SEC this year
• Has had seven assists in four games this year; has 66 total this year, a single- season career high
• Has only missed multiple free throws in a game three times this season
• Has made five or more free throws nine times this season (season-high 12 vs. Troy)
#55 Promise Taylor • F • Freshman
• Three-time SEC Freshman of the Week
• 8.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG
• Leads SEC in conference-only shooting (.649)
• SEC’s top-ranked freshman in overall shooting percentage (2nd, .613)
• SEC’s top-ranked freshman in blocks (3rd, 2.7/game); 17th nationally
• Broke the single-season blocks record of 67 set by Shawn Goff in 2008. Currently has 72 on the year.
• Set the single-game blocks record at No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 8 with 10, breaking the 1993-94 record of seven by Susan Byrd.
• Her 10 blocks vs. Texas A&M rank as the most in the SEC this year and tied for the third most nationally in a game this season.
• .613 shooting percentage would stand as the new school record if the season were to end today, besting Eugenia Conner’s .604 from 1983.
• Four double-doubles; nearly had a triple- double at Texas A&M with 14 points, eight rebounds and 10 blocks
• Has at least three blocks in 13 games and at least four blocks in seven games this year
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: 32
Ole Miss owns the 32nd toughest strength of schedule in the NCAA, with past opposition holding a .590 winning percentage (393-273) and future opposition holding a 25-28 record (.472).
LAST TIME OUT (vs. #19 Georgia)
The Rebels clawed their way out of a steep deficit to bring the game to within one point down the stretch, but No. 19 Georgia pulled away late for a 66-52 victory over the Ole Miss at The Pavilion on Feb. 19.
Ole Miss was down by 19 points just 20 seconds into the second half, but the Rebels ripped off a 26-8 run in the third quarter to come within one point in the process -- entering the fourth quarter trailing Georgia by only four at 48-44. The Lady Bulldogs responded with a stiff defensive front in the fourth quarter, stretching for the 66-52 victory after holding the Rebels to just 22.2 percent shooting in the final frame.
Junior Georgia guard Caliya Robinson scored 28 points on 13-of-21 shooting -- 16 of which came in a stellar first half that saw Georgia shoot 50.2 percent as a team.
But despite the first half struggles (and the big first half by Robinson), the Rebels showed resilience in the third quarter with that big 26-8 run -- led by junior Madinah Muhammad, who scored nine in the third quarter alone.
Included in that run for Muhammad was career point No. 1,000, making her the 29th Rebel to ever eclipse the threshold. Muhammad is also the second junior in as many seasons to pass 1,000 points, joining Shandricka Sessom, who did so last season. Muhammad ended the night with 18 points and a 7-of-7 clip from the free throw line, putting her at 1,010 career points.
Also having strong outings this evening were Alissa Alston (10 points), Promise Taylor (eight points, seven rebounds) and Kate Rodgers (six points, six rebounds). Rodgers went down with what looked to be a serious leg injury on the same leg that forced her out of six games earlier this season, but she returned and was a key player down the stretch for the Rebels.
Ole Miss was on fire from three vs. Alabama on Feb. 11, continuing what was then a string of success from beyond the arc.
The Rebels sank 15 threes against the Crimson Tide, tying a season-high (Ole Miss also hit 15 vs. Delaware State), which also registered as the third-most in a single-game in school history. Of those 15, a season-high 11 of those came in a blistering first-half.
In the last 13 games, Ole Miss has drained at least eight threes in seven contests -- including doing so in three of the last six games. Ole Miss ranks sixth in the SEC with 6.3 threes made per game.
Ole Miss has been a dominant force in shot blocking this season, thanks primarily to freshman center Promise Taylor. The Rebels rank 46th in the NCAA in blocks per game (4.6) and 41st in total blocks (124) -- 72 of which come from Taylor, who ranks 13th in total blocks and 17th in blocks per game (2.7). No game was this more present than at No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 8, where the Rebels blocked 13 shots -- the most in a single-game in Ole Miss history and tied for the most by an SEC team this season. The Rebels have blocked at least five shots in 11 games this year and at least four in 17 contests.
Because of the surge in blocked shots, the Rebels sit just five blocks short of the single-season record of 129, set back in 1982-83.
The silver lining to losing someone as valuable as Shandricka Sessom so early in the season is that plenty of Rebels are gaining valuable starting experience early in their careers. Of the 11 active Rebels on the roster, 10 have started a game for Ole Miss this season -- including five underclassmen. Ole Miss has used 10 different starting lineup combinations this season.
MUHAMMAD JOINS 1K CLUB
Junior Madinah Muhammad dropped 18 points on No. 19 Georgia on Feb. 19, and in the process becoming the 29th Rebel to eclipse the career 1,000-point mark.
Muhammad has scored a career-high 419 points through 25 games played this season and currently sits just five points off of 28th all-time -- Rebel great and former Ole Miss head coach, Carol Ross (1,015).
Muhammad is also the second junior to pass 1,000 career points in as many seasons, as senior Shandricka Sessom did so in 2016-17). She is also the third in the last six seasons (Valencia McFarland, 2012- 13).
ALSTON COMING THROUGH
Junior Alissa Alston has proven herself a skilled scorer during her third season as a Rebel, and has become a crucial component to the Ole Miss offense as both the field marshall at point guard and off the dribble.
Alston is coming off a career-high 28-point outing vs. Vanderbilt on Feb. 1, her fifth 20-point game of the season after not recording any during her first two seasons at Ole Miss. She has scored at least 16 points in six of her last nine games played after entering the 2017-18 season with a career-high of only 17 points prior.
Alston has been in double digits in 19 games played this season, shooting 41.4 from the field and 75.9 from the charity stripe. She has had at least three games where she’s started at least 8-of-8 from the free throw line, including a 14-of-16 line vs. Middle Tennessee to help lead the Rebels to the national TV win over the Blue Raiders.
AIR IT OUT, TORRI!
She hit 10 threes vs. New Orleans as a freshman in 2015 (the third-most in NCAA history in a single-game), and junior Torri Lewis found that hot-stroke again vs. Alabama on Feb. 11.
Lewis nailed seven treys -- tied for the most by an individual in the SEC this season -- to help lead Ole Miss to a season-high 15 threes. In a four-game span from Feb. 1-11, Lewis was 16-of-32 from three, hitting at least four three-pointers in three of those games. She has hit multiple threes in 10 games this year, with 39 of her 43 total field goals this season coming from three.
SHELBY FROM DOWNTOWN
Sophomore Shelby Gibson is also coming off a career-day from the three-point line vs. Alabama on Feb. 11, continuing what has been a surprising evolution in her game in 2017-18.
Gibson, who entered the season with a career line of 7-of-14 from three after her freshman season, has gone off for a line of 15-of-44 this year -- with 41 of her attempts coming in the last 13 games.
SERIOUS PLAYING TIME
Junior Alissa Alston has logged at least 35 minutes in 12 of her last 14 games, resulting in her playing for 90.9 percent of all available floor time in that span (518 of 570 available minutes). When taking out 26 minutes vs. Mizzou and 16 vs. MSU due to foul trouble, that percentage goes up to 97.1 (476 of 490).
Alston ranks third overall in the SEC with 35.4 minutes played, as well as third in conference-only games with 37.0 per game.
PROMISE MAKES HISTORY
It’s been an incredible first season for freshman Promise Taylor, but she outdid herself with an electrifying performance at No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 8 that will stand in the record book for some time.
Needing just six blocks to tie the 2008 single-season blocks record of 67 set by Shawn Goff (and entering the game averaging 2.7 a game), Taylor exploded for 10 blocks to break not only the single- season record, but she went on to break the 1993-94 single-game record of seven set by Susan Byrd.
Taylor’s night ranks as the top shot- blocking performance of the season in the SEC, as well as the third-best in the NCAA this year. Taylor is the conference’s top freshman shot blocker, ranking third at 2.7 per game (which also ranks her 17th in the NCAA).
Taylor nearly recorded a triple-double in the effort as well, falling just short at 14 points, eight rebounds and 10 blocks. Only three Rebels have ever recorded a triple- double, the last being Kayla Melson on Nov. 13, 2009, vs. Southeast Louisiana with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. No Rebel has ever done so with double-digit blocks.
Freshman Promise Taylor was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the third time this season on Jan. 23, making her the winningest freshman of the award in Ole Miss women’s basketball history.
Taylor has recorded four double-doubles this season and, aside from her profiency in shot blocking, is also the SEC’s top freshman in shooting percentage, ranking second at .613. She also leads in SEC-only shooting at .649.
Senior and Preseason Second-Team All- SEC member Shandricka Sessom tore her ACL during the closing minutes of the first quarter vs. Middle Tennessee on Nov. 29, ending her season. Sessom, who was averaging 17.7 PPG, will redshirt and return in 2018-19.
Sessom currently ranks as the 24th-best scorer in Ole Miss history with 1,131 career points scored.
TOURNAMENT TEAMS ON THE DOCKET
Ole Miss plays 12 schools in 2017-18 that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17.
Troy (Nov. 21, W, 96-93)
1st Round, lost to runner-up Mississippi St.
Temple (Nov. 25, W, 64-48)
1st Round, lost to Oregon
No. 9 Oregon (Dec. 17, L, 90-46)
Elite Eight, lost to UConn
Texas Southern (Dec. 28, W, 73-58)
1st Round, lost to Baylor
No. 3 South Carolina (Jan. 4, L, 88-62)
Defending NCAA Champions
No. 3 Mississippi State (Jan. 11, L, 76- 45; L, 69-49)
Defending NCAA runners-up
No. 11 Missouri (Jan. 18, L, 67-48)
2nd Round, lost to Florida State
No. 10 Tennessee (Jan. 25, L, 75-66)
2nd Round, lost to Louisville
No. 14 Texas A&M (Feb. 8, L, 83-54)
2nd Round, lost to UCLA
LSU (Feb. 15, L, 84-55)
1st Round, lost to Cal
Kentucky (Feb. 22, at home)
2nd Round, lost to Ohio State
Auburn (Feb. 25, in Auburn)
1st Round, lost to NC State
Follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissWBB, Facebook at Ole Miss WBB on Instagram at Ole MissWBB and on Snapchat with the handle @OleMissWBB. Fans can also follow Ole Miss women's basketball head coach Matt Insell on Twitter at @minsell.
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